The biography below is taken from Chris’ 2004 book “Amazona”. It was written by John Zaphyr.

As a young Greek-Cypriot, Chris spent his youth roaming the countryside around his rural home near the town of Famagusta in Cyprus. After his father passed away whilst Chris was still young, his mother and grandmother had to work to support a brood of young children. This left Chris alone to pretty much run wild. Cyprus is a hot place — perfect for a boy fond of the outdoors, which is exactly where Chris spent most of his days, climbing trees, hunting or fishing, and inevitably precipitating any amount of mischief. Isolated from most pop-culture influences, Chris and his friends needed to be creative in their own ways. They made toy weapons, and transformed acres of orange groves into battlegrounds, where armies of boys would wage epic battles in which Spartans fought Persians and Greeks were pitted against Trojans, as well as the more dangerous and therefore more fun game of playing cat and mouse with the armoured cars that policed the curfew which had been imposed as a result of the period’s political unrest. However, troubled by the violent political unrest besetting Cyprus at the time, and desperate to find a better life for herself and her four children, his mother moved the family to London in search of a more secure future when Chris was twelve. It wasn’t an easy time for Chris, transplanted to a new culture, a new country, away from his friends, unable to speak a word of the native language, with little of his precious sunshine. Feeling isolated, Chris sought solace in solitary pursuits and, in doing so, discovered art. Until then art was not something he had found particularly interesting, not in Cyprus anyway, where the outdoors beckoned. But there had already been hints of his new-found interest: the shadow-puppet theatre crafted from scavenged scraps of cellophane and cardboard, and his love for the art of exotic birds printed on cardboard trading cards.

In Cyprus, Chris and his family had also frequently attended one of the local open-air cinemas, where his father had worked as a projectionist. He never forgot the impact of seeing films such as The Ten Commandments, Alexander the Great, The Crimson Pirate and The Flame and the Arrow for the first time. These influences, and later the classic Lawrence of Arabia, would remain the first real inspiration for his artwork. Chris began drawing shortly after he moved to London, at which point he discovered the world of comics. Within their pages, filled with such fantastical art, Chris could visit exotic places and experience feats of heroism and might. Unable to then read English, Chris credits comics — along with his school studies — as his principal method for learning the language. Not surprisingly, Chris’s favourite strip was ‘Heros the Spartan’, drawn by his favourite comic artists, Frank Bellamy and Luis Bermejo, which ran in the legendary UK comic The Eagle. Chris’s other major influences include Don Lawrence and R. Embleton, amongst many others, whose work he still admires today. Proper art materials were beyond his reach, but he was kindly given large sheets of wrapping paper by the local butcher, and even larger paper rolls were available cheaply from the wallpaper shop.

Chris knew what he wanted to do: become a professional artist. With that goal, and armed with burgeoning artistic talent, a growing command of English and increasing confidence, he began to emerge from his shell. When he left school in 1966, his art teacher, Mr Huew Gordon, helped him to apply to the local art school, Hornsey College of Art, then a renowned hotbed of political radicalism. Chris had wanted to study illustration, so he could learn to draw the heroic characters he had seen depicted in both Bellamy’s art and his own imagination. However, much to his disappointment, Hornsey did not offer such a course. He was left with the choice of studying either Fine Art or Scientific and Technical Illustration. As the Fine Art taught at Hornsey was modern impressionism, not at all the traditional figurative style Chris wanted to learn, neither choice was particularly attractive.

He chose Technical Illustration because it involved learning about various drawing disciplines, airbrushing and perspective, but during his first year at Hornsey it became obvious that the course, with all its rigid disciplines, would never enable him to flourish artistically. Consequently, Chris began illustrating scenes of heroic fantasy anyway, and developed his own comic strips filled with scenes of epic battles and heroism. Fortunately, there were some tutors at Hornsey who were sympathetic to his cause, which gave Chris the chance to express his own style. He also gained his first job assisting one of his tutors, Colin Rattray, in illustrating a book dedicated to the first American moon landings in 1969. Browsing in his local second-hand bookshop one day, Chris found an imported American paperback edition of Conan the Conqueror, written by 1930s novelist Robert E. Howard. It was not the title or the subject matter that interested Chris, but the cover art — a painting by American artist Frank Frazetta. In today’s fantasy art community, Frazetta and his distinctive style are iconic. The cover of Conan the Conqueror — an imposing figure on horseback, charging right out of the picture, bloodstained sword in hand — was everything Chris aspired to artistically. As he struggled to identify his artistic ideals and goals, Frazetta was more than an influence. He was a confirmation. Chris bought the book, raced home and began reading through the pages, discovering in the process a wholly different realm of fantasy from the ones he was familiar with. Through the character of Conan, the freebooting wanderer of the Hyborian Age, Chris was offered a world view diametrically opposed to the classical Greek and Roman heroes he had loved so much. As a child in Cyprus, Chris had been immersed not just in ancient history but also in classical mythology. Odysseus and Achilles, the legends of the Trojan War and The Iliad, were no less real than the Spartans or Alexander the Great. But, having gazed at Frazetta’s art and read about Conan’s exploits, Alexander and Achilles began to look a little tame. Instead, he decided to paint sword-wielding, rippling-muscled barbarians, cutting down their enemies with impunity.

During his last year of college, Chris learned discipline and illustrative techniques and became proficient with the airbrush — a skill that proved very useful in his later career as a professional illustrator. However, though he completed his assignments, he did so without any zeal. At night, he would paint large murals in oils depicting the world of Conan with a passion totally at odds with his college work. After graduating, he immediately found work as an illustrator drawing weapons, equipment and maps for a magazine focusing on World War One. Unfortunately, after six months the magazine closed and Chris was made redundant. He was also now engaged to be married, which added to his concerns about his financial security. Searching for solutions, he took a good look at the cover art displayed in the large bookshops of central London. It was the early seventies and, in Britain, science fiction and fantasy were just beginning to catch on. The first wave of UK editions featuring new covers painted by British artists began to appear. Chris bought several for reference, went home and, with the arrogance of youth, made calls to various publishers, telling them that their covers were not that good and he could do better. Tandem Books asked him to prove it by showing his portfolio to their studio, Brian Boyle Associates. For some months Chris had been working hard replacing the college work in his portfolio with the fantasy art he hoped would lead to a book cover commission. To his delight, Brian Boyle liked what he saw and, there and then, gave him his first covers: UK reprints of a trilogy of American paperbacks, including a replacement for a Frazetta cover.

After he successfully completed his first assignment, Brian Boyle Associates hired him as a full-time illustrator. This was great experience for Chris. In two years, he learned about book design, camera-ready artwork and typography. He also painted dozens of book covers, including Westerns and the Clint Eastwood Fistful of Dollars series, science fiction, UFOs, horror, the King Kung-Fu series, militaria and historical fantasy novels.

Working in the heart of London meant Chris had access to advertising agencies and publishers, and he was soon busy on all sorts of advertising and numerous other jobs. He also began working on covers for Doctor Who novelisations and the Pellucidar series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, commissioned by his old boss, Brian Boyle. A request for ‘glamour’ illustrations by erotic magazine Men Only, a prestigious title similar in cutting-edge style to Playboy, was another key stage in Chris’s artistic development. This naturally meant painting women, something he had not yet done with any confidence. Nevertheless, this work for Men Only would later bring Chris considerable fame — and notoriety.

Chris soon found that, while the demand for his fantasy and pin-up art was increasing, he was having to turn down exciting commissions because of commitments to the more lucrative advertising work. He had to decide whether to continue taking on various advertising commissions, making good money but receiving little personal satisfaction, or to paint what he wanted — fantasy and glamour art — full-time. Painting a fantasy piece generally took twice as long as an advertising job, while paying only half the fee, and Chris therefore had to be prepared to take a cut in his standard of living. Now with a family to raise and a mortgage to pay, it was naturally a difficult decision. He finally decided to withdraw from commercial advertising in favour of his first love. It was a choice he never regretted. Fortunately, it coincided with a rise in the popularity of fantasy and science fiction art in general, both in America and Great Britain. Chris was flourishing as a fantasy artist. The world-wide success of the Conan novels triggered a demand for similar genre material, including the Gor and Raven trilogies for which Chris painted the covers. He was also kept busy with the Doctor Who books, which were a runaway success and needed on a monthly basis, as well as several commissions for Michael Moorcock novels, among them a cover for one of the Elric novels.

Like many young artists of the period, Chris loved Frank Frazetta’s work, understood its underlying principles — dynamism, a sense of violent action and design — and had at first emulated him. However, inevitably he also wanted to develop his own style. Chris used his airbrush skills to provide a new, sleek sense of realism, vastly different from that of Frazetta. For his Elric cover, Chris decided to depart from the traditional depiction of the character — until then presented in the mould of the muscular, Frazetta-style figure — and paint him as described by Moorcock: a thin, feminine-looking elf, dependent on drugs until he picks up a demonic sword that gives him strength and battle prowess. Chris painted him as slender, with almond-shaped eyes, pointed ears and a feminine demeanour. He also adorned the character with full armour and a blanketing cloak, an innovative approach at the time, inspired by Chris’s insatiable interest in historical costume. In 1977 Chris was approached by Roger Dean, the founder of Dragon’s World Ltd (along with his brother Martin and Hubert Schaafsma) and album cover artist for bands such as Yes, who was then having great success with his own book, Views. The result was Chris’s first published collection, Beauty and the Beast, featuring a mixture of his fantasy, cover and erotic pin-up art. It too was a huge success, selling over 100,000 copies worldwide and being translated into four different languages. This was soon followed by the Amazons Portfolio, containing prints of eight Amazonian women. Unfortunately, Roger and Martin, with whom Chris had shared a good working relationship, decided to leave Dragon’s World to start another publishing house.

In an attempt to stabilise a career suddenly thrown off course, Chris looked for opportunities in other fields. He finally turned to the film industry he had so adored as a boy. Initially he got work supplying covers for movie-related novels but, in a short time, was producing promotional art for the films themselves. His first major commission was for the 1980 animated fantasy film Heavy Metal, arguably his most recognised work. Not only did Chris paint the movie poster, but he also designed the look of the female heroine, Taarna, and her faithful winged steed. That famous image can still be seen on the cover of the current DVD and video releases of the film. By the early 1980s, with Britain’s fantasy and science fiction genres having all but faded, and the country in recession, work was even more difficult to find. For Chris, this period of his life was an unhappy one. Many of his commissions were cancelled, and those few projects that did find print, such as his paintings for a 1982 calendar entitled Amazons, may have been well received but the artist never really found the expected financial reward.

However, despite the book’s success and Chris’s own rising profile within the fantasy art community — his pictures were being copied by tattooists, custom car airbrush artists and even onto leather jackets — he was almost without new work for the first time. This can be partly attributed to Chris himself. In the late seventies he became frustrated with publishers’ demands for blatant sex and violence. He wanted to illustrate beautiful women, landscapes and detailed, costumed figures. However, as he soon discovered, beautiful paintings didn’t sell books. At the same time, the increased demand for science fiction and fantasy covers in the early 1970s had resulted in a deterioration in the quality of the publishing. Predictably, the industry experienced a slump and the careers of many fantasy artists, Christos Achilléos included, followed suit. Yet there were some positive notes. In 1984, Chris was commissioned to paint a series of Star Trek paperback covers, singer Kate Bush adapted one of his Raven costumes for her ‘Babooshka’ music video, and the publication Advanced Airbrush named Chris as one of Britain’s top airbrush artists. However, 1985 and 1986 proved to be the worst years of his life, as Chris went through a painful divorce from his wife of eighteen years. Fan demand to see more of Chris’s work resulted in a second art book, Sirens, in 1986. This book was a catalogue of his art and he was heavily involved in its production, designing the book from cover to cover. Aside from showing classic and new paintings, Sirens also included many pencil drawings. These caught the attention of art students, who wanted to learn how to achieve a similar realism in their own work. Another book was planned to not only include the finished art, but also to demonstrate how the magic was accomplished. The result, Medusa, a collection of his drawings and a display of his art technique, arrived in 1988.

By the late eighties, his books were an international success, with strong sales in the UK, Europe, America and Japan. Chris was even receiving mail from as far away as South America and Australia. But the expected level of royalties never materialised, which left him wondering why. Chris soon found out that he was not alone in this. After speaking to some of Dragon’s World’s major artists, their suspicions were aroused. Together, they confronted the publisher, but to little effect, and that’s when Chris decided never to publish another book with the company. This resulted in no further new books until Amazona, sixteen years later. One of the many young artists using Chris’s books as reference material happened to be working in the production office of Lucasfilm Ltd. At that time, George Lucas was producing a new fantasy film, Willow, to be directed by Ron Howard, and the artist showed Chris’s book to his employers. Lucas called Chris to ask if he would work on Willow as a conceptual artist, designing costumes and developing the look of lead characters. Chris accepted, and found both the work and his relationship with director Ron Howard to be a real joy. A trading card series of the fantasy art of Christos Achilléos proved to be a big hit and exposed him to a different group of fans. This single decision was to change his life and lead Chris to where he is today. Trading card paintings made up the bulk of Chris’s work in the early nineties. His favourite subject was detailed, figurative paintings of strong, beautiful females epitomised in pieces such as ‘Chain of Fools’ and ‘Paws & Claws’. Since then, Sirens and Medusa have been reprinted, although there are no plans to do the same for Beauty and the Beast. Medusa was published by another good friend, Neal Mather, under the aegis of publishers Iconia, who also handle Chris’s range of merchandising. This includes posters, cards, postcards, fridge magnets, coffee mugs and a selection of fabulous limited edition figurines. Chris was also creating new erotic art, with work appearing in a number of publications, including the German fetish magazine Marquis. And he produced a new wraparound cover painting of Taarna, the celebrated heroine that he had designed some fifteen years earlier, for Heavy Metal magazine.

“With the arrival of the nineties, I found myself harmonising my work and private life for the first time,” Chris says. “I endured a lot in the eighties and was now stronger, having acquired a lot of life experiences, some of which was bound to surface in my work. “This became a time of great enjoyment for me. I found myself single again and there was no shortage of friends to go out with and enjoy the then blossoming London alternative club scene. The goth and fetish movements were at their best and most vibrant. There was a fantastic array of young beautiful people dressed in the most exotic and imaginative ways possible. A real ‘zoo’ of wonderful weirdoes creating an artist’s paradise of influences. As if this was not enough, the rave scene was also happening, and it was almost like going back to the sixties again. I was loving it all! Most influential were the beautiful and wonderful women I ran into who quickly became my friends. (I always felt more comfortable in women’s company than around loads of guys, having grown up in an all female household.) Before long these women were appearing in my paintings. Using models was quite a novelty for me, and it became an important part of my creative process, helping me to create powerful female images with a greater depth and beauty.”

Though Chris continues to accept commercial commissions, his artistic eye has turned to other areas. In 1993 he painted ‘The Dark Angel’, an experiment done on heavy canvas that displayed a looser, more painted style. For Chris, the experience was liberating. Now he is dedicated to creating more of the same — art done not for commission but for himself, for his own personal satisfaction, contributing to his evolution from illustrator to artist. Symbolism is the best way Chris can define his new style. He is also painting in oils now, an aim he had previously mentioned in Sirens.

“I am constantly on the move, creatively,” Chris emphasises. “I have learned to use all kinds of mediums and materials in my work, from airbrushing with inks and acrylics to watercolour and gouache, to oils. I have even painted with fabric dyes. I have painted on commercial art boards of all sorts, I have painted on hardboard (maisonite), on hand-made papers of assorted colours and textures, and on all kinds of stretched canvases and linens. The reasons for this are obvious. My pictures vary so much in subject matter, just as much as my techniques and materials do, from slick graphic works to figurative dragons and landscapes. Painting technique and skill is important - with some images demanding very tight detail on a smooth base, some looser, others heavier with a more textured base - but technique alone is not enough to create good work. Most importantly the picture has to be pleasing to the eye, it has to look great. If it also makes one think, then all the better. The other reason is that I would simply be bored to tears painting the same way all the time, year after year. To me, being a painter is all about learning. I like to think that I’ve learned a little more every time I finish a picture. There’s so much to learn, I could live ten lifetimes and not learn it all!”

Chris’s approach to his work is summed up by a motto which is written on his drawing board:

“Always striving for that unobtainable perfection, that’s what it’s all about.”